What causes reading disorders?

Research shows that reading disability is a specific, brain-based difficulty in learning to recognize and decipher printed words. But there is no single known cause of these difficulties.

Environmental factors—children’s experiences in the classroom, for example, or whether they were read to every day as preschoolers—can play a significant role in most types of reading difficulty.

In addition, research suggests that difficulty with reading may be linked to a person’s genetic makeup and, therefore, passed on from one generation to the next. For example, some cases of reading disability are associated with one or more alterations in genes that play a role in prenatal brain development.

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